The History Behind Princess Diana’s Landmines Walk on The Crown Season 6

The History Behind Princess Diana’s Landmines Walk on The Crown Season 6

One of the reasons Princess Diana was so beloved around the world is because of her charity work and her ability to connect not only with those in the royal family’s elite social circle, but also ordinary people and society’s most vulnerable. The first part of The Crown Season 6, depicts a cornerstone of what became Diana’s legacy in charity work. In the second episode, Diana is on the boat of Harrods’ owner Mohamed al-Fayed, where she is getting to know his son Dodi, when she talks about her upcoming trip to Bosnia as part of her landmine awareness efforts.

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In January 1997, Princess Diana brought international attention to the issue of landmines when she walked in a minefield in Angola to support efforts by Halo Trust, a group focused on landmine removal. At the time, landmines killed or maimed about 25,000 civilians a year, as TIME reported in 1997. “If my visit has contributed in any way at all in highlighting this terrible issue, then my deepest wish will have been fulfilled,” Princess Diana wrote in a letter to the British Red Cross.

Her visit did just that. A couple of months after her death in a car crash in Paris, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) won the Nobel Peace Prize, and in December, the Ottawa mine ban treaty was signed.

The trip to Bosnia mentioned in the latest season of The Crown took place in early August 1997, just a few weeks before her death. Diana met with victims of the civil war that roiled Bosnia in the early 1990s. She delivered a birthday cake to Muhamed Suljkanovic who had lost both his feet in a landmine accident and visited the home of Franjo Kresic, who also lost both his legs and had his eyesight damaged by landmines. “She wanted to know everything, how I survived, how my wife helped me survive, how we have coped with it. At first I was paralyzed–it was a big thing to have a princess in your home,” Kresic told TIME after Diana’s death in 1997. “But after a while, I felt as if we had known each other for a long time. She wanted to see my stumps, she looked at my eyes. I couldn’t see her clearly, but it’s much more telling what one feels than what one sees.”

Diana’s sons Prince William and Prince Harry have carried on her work raising awareness about the dangers of landmines. In 2019, Prince Harry retraced her steps in the same landmine field in Angola, to celebrate Halo Trust’s work clearing landmines in the area after a 22-year civil war. “It has been emotional retracing my mother’s steps along this street 22 years on, and to see the transformation that has taken place, from an unsafe and desolate place into a vibrant community of local businesses and colleges,” he said. And in 2020, Prince William recorded a video message declaring the Falklands free of landmines after the 1982 war, calling them “cruel and senseless weapons.”

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